Durban – The Soul City Institute’s massive OneLove HIV prevention campaign is having a positive impact on sexual behaviour among adults at home and neighbouring countries.
Just five months into the campaign, research has indicated that 61 percents of adults in countries including Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland and South Africa are aware of the OneLove message.
The key message is having multiple and concurrent sexual relationship puts people at risk of getting infected with HIV.
Through several campaigns using mass media, audiences are taught about safe relationships. The campaign teaches people that a safe relationship is one in which there are no secrets, effective communications takes place, and “traditional” practices are challenged. There is also mutual respect and upholding of equal rights for, and between men and women.
The Soul City Institute, an NGO, presented these findings at the 5th Aids Conference being held at the Durban ICC.
The research added that men exposed to the campaign were 42 percent less likely to become involved in transactional sex.
Research conducted in the four regions indicated that people exposed to the campaign are altering their behaviour and rethinking issues related to multiple concurrent sexual partnerships. They are beginning to look at gender and culture, HIV testing and alcohol abuse and condom use in a different light.
Soul City’s Senior Executive: South African Programmes, Sue Goldstein, said the results are encouraging. “Midway through the implementation of the campaign, there is strong qualitative and quantitative evidence that the campaign objectives are being reached and that OneLove is contributing to behaviour change in the context of HIV prevention.”
Participants found that they could relate to the materials used in the OneLove campaign and that it was both educational and entertaining. TV productions seemed to be very effective with the respondents.
“The crucial role played by edutainment media as a health communication strategy in bringing about social and behaviour change is also evident. An end of programme impact evaluation will be conducted in 2011,” said Goldstein.
The material used also was a true reflection of the participants’ lives and communities as far as HIV testing, condom use, relationships and communication are concerned.
The prominent theme that emerged from the research was that respondents started to reflect on their own lives and were positive about making behavioural changes. This was evident with Malawian women who reported being generally more aware of their rights and empowered to challenge risky cultural practices.
Meanwhile, medical male circumcision and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) will be included in the OneLove campaign in 2011.
Research conducted in 2010 in five provinces in South Africa to establish women’s perspectives on male circumcision were also presented at the conference. Women between 16 – 45 years from a mix of urban and rural areas took part in the research.
The results show that although there is a high level of awareness of circumcision and HIV, women feel excluded from discussions about male circumcision and are not comfortable talking about it.
There were mixed feelings about traditional versus medical circumcision. – Kemantha Govender, BuaNews